Mitchell: Underwood delivers another album of potential cross-over hits

Last week’s feature review was of the Jack White solo album Blunderbuss that hit the No.1 spot on the album sales charts on the first day of its release.

This new Carrie Underwood CD and the following Smash soundtrack are both contenders to equal White’s phenomenal feat.

Underwood is an extraordinarily popular country-pop crossover artist and Blown Away, her fourth studio album, sounds much more like a pop album than a country release.

This new offering was three years in the making and features a variety of styles starting off with the hard rocking, guitar-driven Good Girl followed closely by the radio friendly pop rock of the title track that no one would label as country.

It isn’t until the fifth track Do You Think About Me that Underwood introduces a mandolin to the rootsy ballad while pedal steel and fiddle accent the mellow Forever Changed.

Underwood also plays around with some island rhythms on the breezy Nobody Ever Told You that would have made a nice duet with Zac Brown while Underwood goes all out reggae on the sweet sounding One Way Ticket.

There are 14 tracks on this generous offering that holds up nicely and committed fans will enjoy this new album where Underwood, on the liner graphics, seems to be copying Angelina Jolie at the latest Academy Awards with her ‘power’ thigh thrusting through her high-cut evening gown.

Note that Underwood has postponed her support tour until mid June so I am guessing she is thinking hubby Mike Fisher of the NHL’s Nashville Predators is going all the way to the cup final.


The Music Of Smash: (Columbia)

I’ve never seen an episode of this popular NBC series but the premise, as I understand it, is a TV show about rehearsal competitions as to whom will be the Marilyn Monroe character in a Broadway musical to be titled Bombshell.

So I would have guessed that a few of Monroe’s most famous songs, such as Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend or My Heart Belongs To Daddy or Happy Birthday Mr. President, would be covered—but they are not.

Instead, these are mostly all original songs as taken from the TV series with songs written by tried and true stars such as Ryan Tedder (OneRepublic) and Carrie Underwood and hence the grab bag approach to this eclectic album.

Things start off with the Lady GaGa-like dance pop Touch Me as sung by one of the two main ‘Monroe’ contenders, Katherine McPhee, while the understudy, Megan Hilty, offers up the power ballad Who Are You?.

The rest of this disc is all over the musical map with erstwhile doo wop of the closing History Is Made At Night, the Afro Cuban rhythms of The 20th Century Fox Mambo along with a few very busy songs that sound like musical theatre numbers with full ensemble cast.

There is a solid and faithful cover of Christina Aquilera’s evergreen Beautiful while the short take of Michael Buble’s Haven’t Met You Yet is surprisingly flat and underdeveloped at barely two minutes in duration.

But how could there be no nuggets from the fairly large and well known catalogue of Monroe film songs included on this so-called soundtrack?


Santana: Greatest Hits, Live At Montreux 2011 (Eagle)

Fans of Carlos Santana and his band will delight in this recent two disc, 200+ minute concert recorded just last year at the famous Montreux Festival.

There are just too many smash hits here to mention as Santana works his way through his huge catalogue of hits from the ’60s re: Black Magic Woman, Oye Como Va, Evil Ways, Soul Sacrifice to later gems such as Smooth, Maria Maria and Into The Night.

Santana also offers up a cool remake of Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love while Butch Trucks and Susan Tedeschi make a nice cameo on a couple of tunes.

Loaded for the big Santana fan.


Download Of The Week

T Bone Burnett: Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend Before he became the elder statesman and ace producer of roots Americana music (re: the Oh! Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack) Burnett was an interesting rocker with the Alpha Band and some cool solo albums.

His rollicking rockabilly makeover of the Marilyn Monroe classic makes for a great party track and lends a cool, new perspective and maybe this is the sort of tune that should have graced the SMASH soundtrack.



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